Credit card led to arrest of Freeland burglary suspects
June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:53 AM
Couple is charged on multiple counts
Deputies crossed paths with the pair suspected of robbing Freeland businesses at least two times before a stolen credit card led to their arrest a week later.
Court documents released to
The Record this week show Island County deputies had their eyes on Jason Ashlock and Shari Lueken, the suspects in a string of burglaries in the Freeland area, since March 7.
Ashlock and Lueken were arrested March 14 at their Burlington apartment where officers found a cash register stolen from the WAIF Thrift Store and a computer monitor from Second Chance thrift store.
A surveillance video showing the pair buying gas with a credit card they had allegedly stolen in Freeland led police to the apartment, where they also discovered drug paraphernalia.
Island County prosecutors charged the pair on March 19.
Lueken and Ashlock are back due in court March 31 for their arraignment.
Ashlock and Lueken were charged with second-degree identity theft,
second-degree possession of stolen property and second-degree burglary, deputy prosecutor Eric Ohme said.
The arrest was the result of an extensive investigation. Police had ramped up patrols in Freeland to stop the burglars when an observation by an undercover officer led to a break in the case.
According to a report by Det. Ricky Felici, he was patrolling the Freeland business district in civilian clothes in the early morning of March 7 when he spotted a silver sedan parked in front of
The BookBay book store. A woman was in the car and the engine was running.
He called another deputy to check out the car.
Trooper Dave Martin later stopped the car; Lueken was behind the wheel and Ashlock, in the passenger seat. It was sometime after 2 a.m.
Lueken told Martin that she had been raised in the Freeland area and that she was showing her boyfriend the area, Felici wrote in a police report.
Later, Felici discovered that the book store had been burglarized.
He also recalled that earlier that day, another officer had conducted a traffic stop in the area requesting a drivers check on Lueken, but let her and her passenger, Ashlock, go.
As the investigation continued, Felici was told by Dori Hallberg, the owner of Island Tea Company that was burglarized on March 3, that her stolen credit card had been used at a gas station in Coupeville.
I knew they had it, Hallberg said.
I checked immediately online. They used it that night.
They were stupid, she added. Particularly about purchasing gasoline. Everyone knows most gas stations have cameras.
Felici checked out the surveillance video and found that someone in a silver car, just like the one he had seen in front of the book store, was buying gas at the gas station with the stolen credit.
A video from the gas station showed a man getting out of the car. As he began to pump gas, a woman got out of the car to help. Once she was done, she pulled up her shirt and wiped off the pump handle and other parts of the pump.
The woman in the video is of similar height and weight to the descriptors provided on Luekens drivers record, Felici wrote in his report. He said she resembled someone who had been arrested before and booked into Island County Jail.
Hallberg later said that she was glad that something good came out of the loss of her credit card.
It was a headache and a lot of paperwork closing and opening the credit card accounts, Hallberg said.
But it was also a blessing in disguise if this is what enabled them to catch them, she said.
We had enough, Hallberg added. I hope things will now begin to calm down.
With the evidence from the video in hand, Felici asked for a search warrant of the pairs apartment. With the help of Burlington police, Island County deputies went to pay Ashlock and Lueken a visit in Burlington on March 14.
Ashlock and Lueken refused to open the door for police, who found drug paraphernalia in the apartment after they forced open the front door. There were several glass smoking pipes, partially burned bits of aluminum foil and a digital scale with traces of white powder.
According to a police report, both Ashlock and Lueken came out of a bathroom after officers made their way inside the apartment, and police could hear the sound of a toilet tank refilling as officers arrested the couple.
In a locked room, officers found stolen goods from Freeland, including a cash register matching the one stolen from WAIF on March 5 and a receipt marked WAIF.
A few feet from the cash register, they saw a large black flat screen computer monitor like the one stolen from the Second Chance thrift store in Freeland.
When it was time to take Lueken to Island County, Felici reminded her that she could call a public defender.
Lets just go to Island County, she said, according to records.
Felici allowed her to smoke a cigarette before making the way back to the Coupeville to book her into jail.
Were you the one in the sheriffs car that night, she asked Felici about the night he spotted her in front of the book store.
No, I was the one in the camouflage pants and black jacket that walked by when you were parked in front of The BookBay, he answered.
That really freaked me out. Jason was still in the store, she allegedly said, according to police records.
During the ride to Island County Jail, Lueken told Felici that the pair had originally gone to Freeland to break into her parents home.
She also told the deputy that she needed cash because she owed money to a drug dealer in Oak Harbor and that she was afraid of him.
When they couldnt get inside her parents home, they decided to break into businesses in Freeland.
The deputy joked with her that the couple had been keeping him busy. Lueken claimed they had done just four break-ins, according to Felicis report.
I commented that there had been more than that. She began to list the buildings she and Ashlock had broken into. She said out loud: WAIF Thrift Store, Second Chance, the tea store and The BookBay, he wrote.
The officer and Lueken also talked about the evidence that led to her arrest, records show.
I told Lueken that I had to laugh when I saw the video from the Country Store, Felici wrote.
Lueken said, You mean when I looked up at the camera? I said no. Lueken then said, Oh, when I wiped the fingerprints off the pump?
The pair are still in Island County Jail in Coupeville. Bail was set at $50,000 for Lueken and $10,000 for Ashlock.